Blogs for Teaching

 

Blogs for Teaching

 

Encourage student sharing, collaboration and reflection.
Blogging can be used with students to encourage reflection and collaboration by allowing a simple way to publish and share work online. Blogs provide an easy way to post text, pictures, documents, podcasts, and videos to the web. They can be used to replace paper-based assignments with digital writing activities to encourage greater peer interaction and discussion. There are a number of different ways to include blogs into your course.

How do Blogs work?

A blog is in essence a simple online publishing tool that allows for an individual or group to easily post and manage content on the web. Blogs commonly display content in reverse chronological order, with newest posts appearing first, but blogging tools have evolved to a point where now a number of display options are possible. It is a platform that allows students to easily share their work online, encouraging increased student communication, collaboration and interaction. Blogging typically works like this:

 

Start Blogging

Start blogging.

Use a simple text editor to complete the writing activity and post it to either a shared class blog or individual blog.

Publish it!

Publish and share your thoughts!

Ready to share to others what you have written? Publish it so that others can read it.

Read and comment.

Read and comment.

Read the blog posts of other students in the class and leave comments on their posts.

How Are UBC Arts Instructors Using Blogs?

How can Blogs help me?

Blogs provide a shared space for students and instructors to share their work online and comment on the work of their peers. Blog posts can include a range of text, images and other media making them an ideal publishing tool for a wide range of online content. An important feature of blogging for education is that, through reader comments, it allows you to build a community of writers and readers who are able to actively engage with one another. Blogs can come in many flavours and have many uses beyond the single author, journal type use. You can have a shared class blog that is private to the course and used as a space for students to post and discuss course material as a group. Blogs can be used as a portfolio space for students to highlight their individual work . They can be used to create a showcase site to display images and media or to create a link blog that is used to share and annotate web resources.

Advantages

  • Visitors can engage with other readers and your content through comments
  • Multiple authors/readers can contribute to content
  • Customizable look and feel
  • User-friendly technology with simple text editors
  • Quick and easy setup for posting and managing online content
  • RSS feature available that allow readers to subscribe to your feed and automatically notified when new content is posted
  • Ability to tag posts to help with organizing and searching content
  • Teaches students basic web literacy skills involved in creating and organizing online content.

Limitations

  • Content such as posts and comments are displayed in reverse-chronological order so that the most recent entry is posted at the top.
  • Unlike the typical threaded “discussion board” used in Connect, discussions are displayed in the form of posts and comments. This can make for some challenges for those who want to organize discussions hierarchically instead of chronologically.

How can Blogs help improve student learning?

Studies have shown that use of blogs can improve learning in the following ways:

  • Improve writing, literacy and analytical skills
  • Engage learners to think critically
  • Provide opportunity to learn from each other through peer interaction and the sharing of ideas
  • Encourages creative thinking of incorporating images, videos, podcasts into written words
    Provide an authentic audience for student writing

Ideas for Using Blogs

Instructors have used blogs in a variety of ways, including:

Self-reflection: Blogs can be used as a reflection tool. As comments and feedback are received from the teacher and peers, this provides opportunity for students to self-reflect their own experiences and learning process.

Peer review/feedback: Use blogs as a method of peer feedback. By drawing on responses given by peers, learners are able to expand on their ideas and see multiple perspectives which encourages critical thinking. Feedback received helps students identify their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Collaboration: Blogs is an effective method of stimulating collaboration. Students can work together in groups to complete a project or assignment that is then shared with other students in the class. It can be used to complement in-class discussions and allow students to have sufficient time to research and formulate their response prior to contributing online. The PulsePress theme on UBC blogs, for example, provides a real time discussion space for your course that can be used for in class activities.

E-Portfolio/Online Journal: Blogs provide an excellent space for students to develop an e-portfolio or journal documenting their progress, reflections, and learning journey over time.

Connecting/Resource Sharing: Blogs offer potential to upload content and interact beyond the members of the course. Blogs can be used as a shared space between courses or across programs. There is also the opportunity to open the blog up to the open web, expanding the audience and enabling students to connect with others in a wider community.

Tools

Connect Blogs: Connect has its own blogging tool allowing instructors to choose from three options how students can participate: Course blog, individual blog, group blog. These blogs are private with access limited to students enrolled in the course.

Connect Journals: Very similar to Connect Blogs, this allows you to create personal writing spaces for students on Connect. It can be used for self-reflective assignments that may only be shared between the student and the instructor, or shared with other users in the course.

UBC Blogs: UBC blogs is a campus wide WordPress platform available for all faculty, staff, and students to use at no cost. It is similar to WordPress.com, but with CWL controlled access that is limited to UBC Instructors and students (although for public blogs anybody can leave comments). It allows more options for customization such as backgrounds, header images, and themes to choose from. In addition, UBC Blogs can be made visible to everyone or private to certain people.

UBC Blogs Integration with Connect: By enabling a tool link in Connect, UBC Blogs can be fully integrated into Connect. This allows instructors to choose from three options how students can participate (course blog, individual blog, group blogs) and students are automatically added.

Comparison Chart

Connect Blogs UBC Blogs UBC Blogs Integrated into Connect
Customizable look and feel checkmark checkmark checkmark
Open/public visibility checkmark checkmark checkmark
Persistent access beyond the term checkmark checkmark checkmark
e-Portfolio option checkmark checkmark checkmark
Exporting feature checkmark checkmark checkmark
Easy to create a blog for each student checkmark checkmark checkmark
Easy to set up group blogs checkmark checkmark checkmark
Built-in grading feature checkmark checkmark checkmark

Tips for using Blogs in your class

  • Do not assume students are familiar with blogging. Provide a technical orientation session at the beginning of class.
  • Consider the goals of your blogging activity and choose an appropriate blogging platform for your students to use (ie. Connect Blogs, UBC Blogs, Blogger, WordPress).
  • Before setting up a blog, consider whether it should be private, open or accessible to only certain people.
  • Understand why and how you will use it in class and ensure learners are clear on expectations.
  • Get students involved in the discussion by asking them to respond to a certain number of blogs each week or to their group.

Challenges

  • Time. Time and technical training is required to learn the system, as student satisfaction is tied to a smooth process (particularly when marks are involved).
  • Student attitude: Many students tend to shy away from blogging and are resistant in having anyone other than the teacher to read their blog. Effectively contextualize the use of blogs so that students are more likely to see it as an added benefit to the learning process.
  • Student workload. Students may see blogging as an additional workload. Care must be taken to ensure that the activity is effectively contextualized as being of benefit to the learning process.

Getting Started

Discuss ideas and options with the Arts Learning Centre Drop by the Arts Learning Centre for a chat in Buchanan C105A
Email Arts ISIT Helpdesk Contact ArtsISIT arts.helpdesk@ubc.ca for assistance or a demonstration!
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UBC Blogs online documentation